House for an Art Lover, Glasgow


Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is Scotland’s most celebrated architect and designer of the 20th century, and today his work is celebrated around the world. Discover his work and legacy across Glasgow, his home town, where he left a beautiful and lasting mark on the city. Come and admire his world-famous designs for yourself.

Who is Mackintosh?

Charles Rennie Mackintosh portrait

It was clear from an early age that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was bursting with talent. Born in Glasgow in 1868, he had a flair for drawing and design, and as a young man he embarked on his illustrious career with an architectural apprenticeship and evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. He won several awards for his work, including the prestigious Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship, which took him on an architectural tour of Italy. Mackintosh believed an architect was responsible for every detail of the design of their buildings, and his interiors reflect this. Inside, rooms echo the modern, Art Nouveau styles used for the buildings themselves. They often used stylistic details such as a rose motif, high-backed chairs and unique typeface filled with decorative marks, all of which are synonymous with Mackintosh today.

Making The Glasgow Style

The Glasgow School of Art became the centre of an art movement in Scotland, and quickly earned its stellar reputation for architecture, art and design. The distinctive ‘Glasgow Style’ was created by Mackintosh and his contemporaries - Herbert MacNair and two sisters, Margaret and Frances MacDonald. They met as students during the 1890s and became known as ‘the Four’ exhibiting their work across the world. The ‘Glasgow Style’ blended Celtic, Arts and Craft and Japanese influences into an innovative new approach which helped to define Art Nouveau and had an impact on design which can still be felt today. Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald later married, and many of her designs can be seen alongside his as they often worked in collaboration.

From exquisite pieces of furniture in museums to a graceful building in a city park, Mackintosh’s simple and stylish Art Nouveau designs became iconic and can still be seen all around Glasgow. No visit to the city is complete without discovering Mackintosh’s pioneering work.

7 places to visit

Mackintosh at the Willow

Mackintosh at the Willow

Mackintosh famously designed several tearooms in Glasgow for local businesswoman Catherine Cranston, with the first at 217 Sauchiehall Street. Sensitively restored to the original 1903 designs, visitors can once again enjoy afternoon tea and other refreshments in a choice of exquisite dining spaces at Mackintosh at the Willow. Learn more about Mackintosh on a guided tour, or by visiting the exhibition which explains more about his designs and collaborations with Miss Cranston. Make sure to visit the rooftop terrace for a drink, where you can spot a Mackintosh designed chimney.

The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse staircase Mackintosh Tower architecture

On Mitchell Lane you'll find one of Mackintosh's earliest buildings. Originally designed as the Glasgow Herald newspaper offices, now there is an interesting hybrid between Mackintosh and modern design, as the building was extended to create The Lighthouse. Home to Scotland's Centre for Design & Architecture, visitors can enjoy a stimulating programme of design-themed exhibitions as well as the fascinating Mackintosh Interpretation Centre, which provides a great introduction to his work. Climb the distinctive spiral staircase up the Mackintosh Tower for 360-degree views over the city centre and a truly 'Instagrammable' experience!

The Hill House

The Hill House Box

Located just 45 minutes outside of Glasgow, Helensburgh is home to another stunning Mackintosh-designed property - The Hill House. This residential home is one of the most significant surviving complete works by Mackintosh, with original furniture and interior design as well as formal gardens designed in the Mackintosh style. Visitors also have the chance to get up close to its exterior and discover parts usually hidden by view in the 'Hill House Box', a protective structure which has been erected over the house to protect it from damage by rain. You can even venture onto the walkway over the roof for a truly unique experience!

Mackintosh Queen's Cross Church

Mackintosh Queen's Cross Church

Queen's Cross Church opened in 1899 and is the only church designed by Mackintosh to be built. See the magnificent stained-glass windows which capture the light and the exceptional wood and stone carvings of this building. This little-known gem is just 10 minutes from the city centre and is a must-see for its blend of Gothic design with Mackintosh’s distinctive style. The church also hosts a regular programme of events including live music concerts.

House for an Art Lover

Piano detail House for an Art Lover 

Not far from Glasgow city centre is the Mackintosh designed House for an Art Lover, in Bellahouston Park. The building was designed for a competition for an 'Art Lover's House' in 1901 but not built until 1989. As well as admiring the magnificent external design, explore breathtaking rooms with lavishly detailed interiors that are filled with recognisably Mackintosh motifs, including the often-photographed white Music Room. After exploring, browse the Art Lover's Shop or relax in the Art Lover's Cafe, and discover amazing sculptures by a variety of artists in the park around the house.

Mackintosh House 

Mackintosh House

At the University of Glasgow's Hunterian Art Gallery is the Mackintosh House. Astonishingly, the home that Mackintosh shared with his wife at 6 Florentine Terrace has been meticulously reassembled at this site, ensuring the sequence of rooms exactly reflect the original. The house even shares the same views, as the original was only 100 metres away.

Scotland Street School Museum

Scotland Street School Museum

Visit the beautiful building of Scotland Street School Museum, which is free to enter, to see impressive leaded glass towers and the magnificent tiled entrance hall. Once a functioning school, it now tells the story of education in Scotland from the late 19th century to the late 20th century, including reconstructed classrooms from across the years. There is also a room dedicated to Mackintosh, which explores how he had to adapt his usual style to fit the requirements of the School Board of Glasgow.

Other places to discover Mackintosh

Mackintosh Club Helensburgh

Learn more about Mackintosh, his contemporaries and their pioneering works at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is home to the Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style Gallery, the largest permanent display of work by key names in the Glasgow Style movement. At V&A Dundee, Mackintosh sits at the heart of the Scottish Design Galleries. Visitor can walk through the Oak Room, a meticulously restored full interior from one of Mackintosh’s tearooms. 

While in Helensburgh, visit the Mackintosh Club, a Creative Hub for Architecture, Art, Design and Music. The building is Mackintosh’s first complete commission, and is now a gallery and arts venue that celebrates the ‘Glasgow Four’ with permanent and visiting exhibitions. In Glasgow city centre, the Glasgow Art Club’s premises on Bath Street were converted by John Keppie, whose trained Mackintosh. The interior designs featured motifs by Mackintosh and an extensive mural by him, which has been restored. A members’ club, visitors can book onto guided tours of the building and visit special exhibitions.